Building a Resume

Building a resume is difficult for clergy in transition. The duties you perform – the duties which you were called to do – have no worth in a secular business world. Listing these functions in your secular resume will get your resume tossed quickly into the “Rejected” pile. Those who are not close enough to pastor’s work tend to discount or even to ridicule the pastoral activities.

That was a tough statement. Those things you do are not of value? Standing by families in crisis. Planning all those church picnics and social hours with the congregation. Praying with a soul in turmoil over a life situation. All those hours of sermon prep. All these are of no worth.

Not really. What was written was these tasks have no value in a secular workplace. Those pastoral tasks changed lives on a way you will never find opportunities to do in business. This is a sad reality that must be looked on squarely in the face or you will be dogged by a profound disappointment in your non-pastoral work career. Your job was “people helper.” In the business world, your job will be “profit helper.”

The resume you prepare should reflect the duties your performed that can translate to a profit value world. As a pastor, you performed function that are needed in the secular world. You prepared budgets and managed them. You supervised the work of others. You prepared reports. You managed the maintenance of facilities. If you went through a major construction project, you have worked with contractors, You may have prepared the request for bids and evaluated those bids. You conducted fund raising campaigns. You coordinated events, perhaps even doing the event planning. Perhaps, one could say that all those chores that you didn’t like to do are now the experiences that should be at the core of your resume.

Try to think of the secular equivalent of your experience. For example, preparing and giving sermons. This would be the preparing and delivering presentations. Crisis intervention could be translated into problem solving or determining client needs. One suggestion is to prepare a worksheet with 2 columns, In one column, list your pastoral experiences. In the other column, translate each of those tasks into business speak. Use job ads to build up your business term vocabulary.

A point one never sees in tutorials for preparing resumes is the one point that should guide the writing of your resume. Write your resume to the job you are applying for. There is no such thing as one good resume that fits all. The person reading your resume when it is receive will judge your fate in about 5 seconds. If they don’t see a match to the position within that time, your resume will be rejected. It is worse if the company scans your resume and rates it by the number of keywords found in it. If the position does not require teaching skills, do not reference teaching.

A final word. Your experience as a counselor or teacher will not be acknowledge unless you have the academic credentials to become certified. When you are working for a faith-based organization, you were not required to have a license or certification. A bright point here is that should you want to find secular employment in those areas, you have the skills and experience to do well. All that is needed is to complete the paperwork. That may mean going back to school for a degree or to work towards obtaining a certificate.

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1 Response to Building a Resume

  1. Alan says:

    Thanks for the great article, I found it helpful after almost 14 years in ministry and now almost 2 years of searching for employment.

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